I love Beautiful synchronicity.
Yesterday, as I was preparing to write something about today’s Feast of Miriam I began looking at paintings of Mary Magdalene and saving them on my computer. But at the same time I began to feel that I really wanted today’s article to be about art more than something historical or religious. Certainly I feel, like Master Rodin said, that “true artists are…the most religious of mortals”. But sometimes I end up waxing on about the actual religious and historical elements of Cyprianism more than the lessons we can learn from it’s artistic teachings.
Anyway, whatever the reason, I was definitely being tugged to write something during today’s Feast day that was more about what Mary would say to me as an artist in the Paphian tradition. And as I went to open some of the images I had saved, I noticed a Word document stored in the same folder called “Life Lessons from Art – Harmony”. A Word document! I haven’t used Word in recent memory so this struck me as strange. I opened it to find a bullet pointed set of lecture notes I had prepared while on a train from Chicago to New Orleans a couple of years ago. I barely remember writing it. But what stuck out to me was that which was written at the top. A line from an ancient philosophical book, an apocryphal papyrus discovered in 1896 known as the Akhmim Codex. The line was “Be in harmony…If you are out of balance, take inspiration from manifestations of your true nature.” And it is attributed to Mary Magdalene! I love Beautiful synchronicity.
So, I’d like to take a moment to share a few notes concerning Harmony. A life lesson from art that can be applied to our Beautiful Lives. I’ll keep it short for now, but I encourage you to seek and share your own thoughts on the subject.
One of my dearest friends is so often talking about “balance” and I always correct him to “harmony”. Why? Because the idea of balance is too easily misunderstood in context of today’s culture. People think, well if I do ten of this bad thing, I have to do ten of this other good thing to balance it out. And that makes all I do okay. And balance of this kind, though difficult, is much easier than harmony.
Balance is often about one person. Harmony is about relationships. In art, the colors you use must harmonize with each other and with the composition of the piece itself. In a sculpture, each element must be in harmony with all the other elements.
In addition, it must be in harmony with what already is. In harmony with its era and culture. And in harmony with what is in the metaphysical sense – the all.
Even if a piece of art stands out in opposition to it’s era, culture, etc. It can be said to be in harmony because harmony isn’t always pleasant. There is a moving tension in certain harmonies that can serve many purposes. But their intention is typically, and most effectively, employed to cause the need for resolution – another form of harmony.
Especially because what is is always in motion. Like music, the flowing totality of the universe is never at rest. And often what is for us is not pleasant. Our personal or cultural situations might even be horrible. But there are always ways to harmonize. Harmony cannot exist without relationship and relationships cannot exist without some level of tension.
One Greek word for harmony is Eukrasia, which literally means “a good mixture”. Whether you think about the art of painting, music, cocktails or whatever, a good mixture is simple to understand. One element might be bitter or unpalatable on its own, but it can harmonize nicely with the other elements making the resulting piece richer than it would have been otherwise.
Even discord can become harmony when it discovers itself to be complimentary – integrated into a higher and more complex order. To make discord resonate in the larger harmonic picture it must be considered, confronted and treated with an artistic deftness.
And here’s the really cool part. As Cyprians, we strive to resonate with our deep, true nature – that nature which compels us to create. If you “take inspiration from manifestations of your true nature” in order to be in harmony, you have stepped firmly onto the path of true Cyprian creativity.
Happy Feast of Miriam. Fiat Lux Lunae.